Bill Gates Unplugged

Friday, November 14, 2008

From Virtual Classrooms to Virtual Schools

What the future in Education will look like

As we move rapidly from election to the reality of the future, we should be looking for ways into the new world of our vision, a new way of looking at and doing things, qualitatively different than the paradigms of the past.

It is not farfetched for a futurist to imagine a Virtual School to supplement and maybe someday supplant the old traditional classroom. In Florida, they have already started.

In Florida, Virtual School Could Make Classrooms History

Thousands of Florida students may ditch public elementary and middle schools next year in favor of online classes at home -- an option that could change the face of public education.

A new law that takes effect next fall requires every district in the state to set up an online school for kindergarten through eighth-grade students. They won't have to get on the bus -- or even get out of their PJs -- to head to school at the family computer.

A handful of elementary- and middle-school students already are experimenting with virtual classes, withdrawing from regular schools and enrolling instead for online instruction. Students take a full range of courses, including reading, writing, math, science, history, art, music and even physical education.

"I am so excited about this that my goal is to go all the way through 12th grade," said Joni Fussell, whose 8-year-old daughter has been studying at the kitchen computer in their Altamonte Springs home since January.

Read more… at


In 2002, I began researching online educational tools after a student introduced me to These and other tools were later published on Juneteenth 2007 at

Virtual School Tools

We have long since entered the digital age. The government and many colleges and universities have published free educational tools online. But our public school system is far, far behind the curve in applied technology for the classroom. In Fort Worth, Texas, we are still upgrading Windows 95.

I remember how hard it was to get computers into the classroom in 1995-1996. The teachers were the first to balk, threatening to quit if they had to learn computers. By that time, students were already computer literate.

The biggest obstacle came from book publishers who perceived computers to be a threat to the traditional paperback textbooks. The fear still exists, but more from software developers who have contracts to produce computer programs to be used for classroom curriculum. Although free online tools are used by students, complicated cumbersome home-made programs do not integrate well. Software developers have no concept with different learning styles and techniques. They struggle simply to write a program that works. Online tools are much more user friendly and infinitely more engaging.

Background and History

If necessity is the mother of invention, then surely our short-lived community-based computer school discovered useable and effective free tools from online. We never received the public funding the program deserved. For the most part, I funded the computer school out of my own pocket, and by 2004 when we closed our doors, I manage to keep a little of the curriculum, which is posted at


Some time in the future, maybe far past my time, the classroom will be wired with new technology and innovations. Students will be engaged to learn by fascination alone… no motivation needed. And, they will learn at a rapid, efficient clip, based on new theories of learning.

But it is hard for the new to replace the old unless we have a national leader with a vision and foresight.

1 comment:

jhon deny said...

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